lessons from my mother

my mother is probably in dreamland right now as i sit here listening to a karen carpenter song. it makes me a bit sentimental. she used to sing some of the carpenters’ tunes with a guitar, especially when we experienced occasional power failures in those days.

when i think about my mother, i think about powder and red lipstick. when i think about her, i think about some of the biggest life lessons… and i narrow it down to three.

don’t be your child’s friend – not when s/he is growing up – which is a mistake for most parents. the thing is, a child will have hundreds of friends, dozens of cousins, seven sets of aunts and uncles, two sets of grandparents… but a child will only have one set of parents (whether biological or adoptive), who will mould his/her formative years. so, take that firm-yet-gentle parental hat on while a child is growing up. otherwise, that once will pass by in a snap.

listen – no matter what. even when my mother was running late, she would spend a minute or two to listen to me, no matter how petty and silly it was. when i asked her once, she said: “i thought it was the best way to build trust and confidence. when you had something to say, it meant it was important, very important. and through your stories, i got to know your friends, your likes, your temper, all those sorts of getting to know someone. more than that, when you were a child, i thought i’d savour those times you told me every thing because i knew time will come when you will hold secrets from me.”

treat your child as a person and treat him/her with respect and dignity. what most parents overlook, because they are parents, is that they treat children only as ‘children.’

i was a handful child. i would throw tantrums everywhere, to the point of courting a crowd. and every time i had those eventful instances, my mother would distance from me (but still on a viewing distance), and allowed me to scream my lungs out, and honestly didn’t bother when strangers came up to comfort and/or ‘pity’ me. after a while of madness, when i have calmed down, she would reach out and would gently ask, “do you want to go home now?” when i asked her why she did that, she remarked: “because you’ll get tired, eventually. so i let you be.” and in all those childhood tantrums i threw, my mother never raised a voice nor did she embarrass me in public. she would wait and hold her piece until we got home to gently address my issues.

it will still be a while before i become a mother. but with karen carpenter singing in the background, i can’t help but think about my mother and her life lessons’ file catalog.  it’s really true that some songs remind one of bits and pieces… or perhaps, beyond karen carpenter and my mother’s  life lessons, it makes me long to those moments i had, many a once, when my mother would pick up her guitar and serenade to me and my sister.